ENTRY INTO FORCE of the European Convention on Human Rights

3 September 1958

Number of implemented cases*



Holocaust survivor defends his reputation at the European court

Aba Lewit took legal action against a magazine that described concentration camp survivors as “a plague”, but the Austrian courts said he had no case to argue. Aba then turned to the European Court of Human Rights, which found that Austria had failed to protect his reputation. Austria’s highest court later declared that the domestic courts had not properly explained their decisions in Aba’s...

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Same-sex couple win discrimination case over health insurance refusal

P.B. and J.S. wanted to be jointly covered by J.S.’s civil service health insurance scheme, but P.B.’s request was refused because he was a same-sex partner. The European court ruled that Austria had unfairly discriminated against P.B. and J.S., up to the point when the law on civil service insurance cover was changed to no longer distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

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Reforms made after mother lost custody of her children simply because of her religion

Ingrid Hoffmann was a Jehovah’s Witness. When she got divorced, a child psychologist advised that she should be given custody of her children, because of their close bond. However, an Austrian court ruled that the father should get custody, because of Ingrid’s religion. The European court ruled that this had been discriminatory – leading to changes to prevent the same thing happening again.

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Fair custody rights for fathers of children born out of marriage

Under Austrian law, custody of a child born out of marriage was automatically given to the mother, with few exceptions. Meanwhile, custody of children born within marriage was decided according to the child’s best interests. At the European court, Gerald Sporer successfully argued that this was unfair – leading to a change in the law.

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Legal challenge brings an end to the state monopoly on TV and radio

During the 1970s and 1980s, various Austrians wanted to set up local TV or radio stations. However, Austrian law banned them from doing so, as it gave the Austrian Broadcasting Company a monopoly. The European court ruled that the ban was disproportionate and violated the right to free speech. The judgment led to the opening up of broadcasting regulations.

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* This figure includes all judgments and decisions from the European Court of Human Rights (including friendly settlements) concerning which the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has decided that all necessary follow-up measures have been taken. Source: the database of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the ECHR, HUDOC-EXEC.